JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – A man carrying a large ax attempted to gain entry Friday afternoon to Ruth N. Upson Elementary School, according to the Duval County school superintendent, and the DCPS police chief said that person then left the campus and was later shot by a DCPS officer after refusing commands to drop his weapon.
Superintendent Dr. Diana Greene said it happened at about 2:48 p.m. She said a man approached the entrance and that school staff followed procedures, not allowing him inside. The school went into lockdown.
“Our staff followed their training, kept all of our students and staff community safe,” Greene said.
The superintendent said the man left the campus and school police intervened. A school safety assistant followed the man a short distance, but remained on campus to ensure there was no further threat to the school.
“Police officers from the Duval County School Police Department were on the way. As the subject then left the school, he made his way towards a church where he was then encountered by the police officers,” DCPS Police Chief Greg Burton said. “As the subject came towards one of the police officers, the officers gave him verbal warnings to drop the ax, kept giving him verbal warnings to drop the ax.
“At that time, the subject threatened the officer with the ax. The subject then was shot at least one time as the officer discharged his service weapon.”
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Burton said the man was in critical condition.
The lockdown was eventually lifted for dismissal. Students who attend after school care were held in the school’s media center until pickup.
Casey Scalise, who lives on the block, said he was looking out his window when he saw the man go by.
“I saw a big guy with a big ax,” Scalise said. “I saw a police car race down the other way he walked, then three guns shots and a lot of commotion after that.”
“A woman was coming back this way crying and said, ‘They shot him. They shot that guy,’” Scalise added. “I said. ‘Are you OK?’ And she said, ‘Yes.’ She said, ‘There was a guy after us with an ax.’”
Mayor Lenny Curry released a statement on Twitter that reads:
“I have been in contact with @DrDianaGreene. The safety of @CityofJax‘s children has been and remains my top priority. Standing in solidarity today with @DuvalSchools after the incident this afternoon. Grateful everyone at the school is safe and headed home to their families.”
Here are the two messages that were sent to families: